The Sun to pull down paywall in time for Cyber Monday
The Sun, the UK newspaper that in most countries would be considered a health hazard, may pull down its website paywall, according to the Guardian. As no one died, or looked silly, The Sun did not report on the news, though it did lead with a story that two people who look similar sat next to each other on plane. (Can’t imagine what that is not leading the news on NYTimes.com, cover-up!)
“It is understood that News UK, which also publishes the Times and the Sunday Times, has taken the decision to compete against major rivals in the free advertising market such as Mail Online,” writes Mark Sweeney of the Guardian.
According to an email to staff from News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the move will be effective at the end of November.
“I recently shared with you the future priorities for the company and am excited today to tell you more about our plans for the first of these: growing the Sun’s audience. This will mean setting the Sun predominantly free in the digital world from 30 November. By happy coincidence, this is also Cyber Monday, one of the best-performing days of the year for online retail,” Brooks is said to have said in the email.
The Sun had, for a while, a solid paywall strategy, but moved to offering limited access to stories this summer. This helped grow its audience and likely led to the decision to go completely open in order to better compete for digital advertising revenue. (Alexa lists The Sun’s website far behind its rival The Daily Mail – on the other hand, Alexa says the #2 country for readers of TNM is Italy, so take any data from Alexa with a grain of salt.)
Paywalls have proved most effective as a revenue generator for financial publications – The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and The Economist being good examples. The area of consumer news, however, their record has been spotty – at least in English speaking countries. The New York Times is usually seen as a successful example the implementation of a paid content strategy, recently reaching the 1 million mark in paid digital subscriptions. The Sun, apparently, is not The New York Times.